In Gaza, Palestinian fishermen are allowed to travel six miles off the coast. Earlier this year, a temporary extension was put in place granting permission for them to fish an extra three nautical miles from the Palestinian territory. Lasting until the end of June, the measure has since been withdrawn.
While the temporary extension had a positive, short-term impact on Gaza’s fisherman, those involved in the fishing industry still face dangers at sea. Even when they are within the designated limit, they are not safe.
Non-profit organisation Human Appeal has highlighted the issues facing these people. The charity works hard to support the fishermen of Gaza – but there is still a long way to go before the problems are solved.
Violence and harassment
Fishing in Gaza is a difficult and dangerous way to make a living. It’s not uncommon for fishermen to be harassed, interrogated and treated as if they are criminals. This can sometimes even lead to arrest.
In 2016, over 120 incidents of violence were reported where fishermen were fired at by the military. It’s also recorded that 12 fishermen were injured and seven boats were targeted by shelling.
A worrying decline
As a result of the ongoing problems, the number of registered fishermen has declined by more than 50 per cent since the year 2000. Those who do take to the sea to fish face a number of obstacles. The shrinking area these people are permitted to work within has led to a severe overfishing problem. As a result, there has been a huge reduction in the amount of fish left to catch.
It’s reported that over 90 per cent of Gaza’s fishermen are living below the national poverty line. Due to the restrictions on sea access and the entry of building materials into Gaza, the fishermen are often unable to repair their damaged vessels or find spare parts.
Without the materials they require to mend their boats, the fishermen are prevented from working and therefore struggle to feed their families. Of the 4,000 people employed within the fishing sector, it’s reported, on average, they have a family of six depending on them. In order to survive, many are forced to rely on loans and humanitarian aid. The ongoing violence and heavy restrictions has put a massive strain on, and is ultimately destroying, their livelihoods.
Helping those who need it most
There’s no denying that the situation for Gaza fishermen is extremely difficult. Fortunately, Human Appeal is on hand to help. With the funds it receives, the charity is able to provide these people with new equipment, such as fishing rods, nets and generators, as well as offer the resources needed to repair damaged boats.
For more information on the situation in Gaza and details on how you can make a difference, you can visit the Human Appeal website – www.humanappeal.org.uk.